How and Why did the Liberals Help the Poor?

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  • How and Why did the Liberals Help the Poor?
    • What Were the Working and Living Conditions like for the Poor in the 1890s?
      • Serious Hardship
        • Main source of help was the workhouses
          • Provided food and lodging in exchange for long, brutal hours of labour
            • Seen top be shameful
        • Serious unemployment in some industries
          • No 'dole'
        • Old people with no savings or family suffered badly - no government pensions
          • Only way out was the workhouses
        • Housing was extremely damp and cold, with no proper swage
          • Ver easy to fall sick
            • People lost out on work and risked unemployment
            • Most could not afford doctors or medicines
        • Many children had to work from an early age
          • Lost out on education
        • Large numbers of people couldn't even afford to eat properly
          • Half the men recruited for the Boer War (1899-1902) were malnourished
      • Charles Booth
        • Published 1st edition of Life and Labour of the People in 1889
          • Indicated that 30% of people in London were living in severe poverty
          • Sometimes impossible to find work
      • Seebohm Rowntree
        • Published Poverty: A Study of Town Life in 1901
          • Showed that 28% of people in York were so poor they couldn't even afford basic food and housing
      • Public Opinion
        • Popular and well-respected writers like Charles Dickens and George Bernard Shaw wrote about the poor and said they needed help
        • People involved in public health and medicine said the government should get more involved with health issues
        • Socialists said that wealth should be spread more evenly amongst wooers and rich employers such as factory owners
        • The upcoming Labour Party argued the government should give financial help to the poorest members of society
    • How Were Social Reformers Reacting to the Social Problems of the 1890s?
      • Children
        • 1906 - Free School Meals
          • Allowed LEAs to provide free school meals paid fro out of rates
        • 1907 - Free Medical Inspections
          • Compulsory for LEAs to provide inspections within school clinics
          • From 1912,  treatment could also be provided, but was left up to LEAs
            • Medical care subsequently varied all over the country
        • 1908 - Children and Young Person's Act (Children's Charter)
          • Made it illegal for children under 16 to buy cigarettes, enter a pub or beg
          • Set up juvenile courts
          • Set up  borstals
          • Set up probation service
      • The Elderly
        • 1908 - State Pensions Act
          • For people over 70 on a low income
            • Single people with an income less than £21 got 5s a week
            • Married couples with an income less than £21 got 7s 6d a week
            • Anyone with an income between £21 and £31 got a smaller pension
            • Anyone with an income over £31 didn't get a pension at all
          • The scheme was non-contributory - a huge step
            • While the pension was only ever intended to be supplementary, its effect was enormous
              • The number of people claiming outdoor relief fell by 80,000
          • in the 1908 budget, £1,200,000 was set aside for the pensions
      • The Workers
        • 1909 - The Trade Boards Act
          • Set up trade boards for each of the 'sweated industries'
            • Mde up of equal numbers of workers and employers, with a neutral chairman
          • The board's job was to decide a minimum wage for that industry
            • Employers paying less could be fined
          • Factory inspectors made sure the Act was put into practice
        • 1909 - The Labour Exchanges Act
          • Unemployed workers could go to labour exchanges to find job vacancies
          • Within five years there was a network right accords Britain
          • One million jobs a year were filled by the exchanges
        • 1911 - The National Insurance Act
          • Health Insurance
            • Each week, workers paid 4d, the employers, 3d and the government 2d into a central fund
            • Sick pay of up to 10s a week was paid to workers if off sick for more than four days for up to 26 weeks
              • Women only received 7s 6d a week sick pay as they earned less in the first place
                • They were entitled to a one-off maternity grant of 30s
            • Insured workers were also entitles to freed medical care
              • A doctors' 'panel' listed all the names of insured workers. Doctors were paid by the government for every worker on the panel
            • Caused controversy - Conservatives said the government had no right o take people's wages and Labour said tax from the rich should pay for it, not the workers
          • Unemployment Benefit
            • Applied to workers in inconsistent industries, such as shipbuilding, iron founding and construction
            • Employers and workers both paid 2.5d and the government 1.75d into an employment fund
            • Workers were paid 7s a week for up to 15 weeks when unemployed
          • Applied to workers earning less than £160
    • Why did the Liberal Government Introduce Reforms to Help the Young, Old and Unemployed?
      • Royal Commission
        • In 1905 the Conservative government set up a commission to look at the Poor Law
          • This was the law in the 19th Century which set up workhouses and other help for the poor
            • The panel on the commission couldn't agree whether the Poor Law was good enough, so they published two reports
        • The Minority Report
          • People couldn't help being poor
          • Illness, old age and a shortage of jobs made people poor
          • More should be done to prevent people being poor
        • The Majority Report
          • If people were poor it was their own fault
          • They made themselves poor by gambling and drinking - they didn't deserve help
          • Enough was being done for the poor already
      • 1906 - Social Reform!
        • Liberals win a landslide general election
        • 29 Labour MPs were elected, giving the party a good position to push the Liberals for reform
          • The battle between the Liberals and Labour for the working-class vote produced 'New Liberalism'
        • The poor physical condition of men in the Boer War was shocking - if there was ever a war, Britain would need a healthy working class to fight
        • David Lloyd-George and Winston Churchill were prominent figures throughout the reforms
    • How Effective Were These Reforms?
      • The 1909 Budget (The People's Budget)
        • Income taxed raised to 6 from 5 pence in the pound
        • New super-tax of 1s 2d in the pound on incomes over £3000
        • Death Duties went up
        • 'Sin' tax went up
      • The  House of Lords blocks the Budget
        • The Liberals call the 1910 General Election
          • In victory, the Liberals reintroduced the Budget and it was passed by both houses
            • The Parliament Act, 1911 was passed to prevent such crises occurring
              • The Lords could no longer reject financial acts and could only block other acts twice
      • The Liberal Reforms left some problems unsolved
        • Hardly any of the new schemes applied to the whole population
        • The National Insurance Act didn't cover workers families and unemployment benefit didn't apply to all industries
        • The Reforms didn't replace the Poor Law - workhouses weren't abolished until 1930
      • Changed attitudes towards the poor
        • The first time national taxes had been used to help the poor
        • The state took on responsibility for taking care of those in extreme hardship for the first time
        • The schemes were nationwide
        • Large numbers were covered - NIA covered 10 million workers
        • New provisions didn't have the same stigma as the workhouse and fewer people had to rely on the Poor Law
        • The number of non-governbemnt welfare organisations, such as Friendly Societies, declined

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